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Holstine v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

June 23, 2015

LEO JOHN HOLSTINE, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER, CORPORATION d/b/a AMTRAK Defendant.

ORDER

DANIEL P. JORDAN, III, District Judge.

This railroad-crossing case is before the Court on the Motion in Limine [125][1] filed by Defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") as well as Plaintiff Leo John Holstine's Motion in Limine [127]. Holstine was a passenger on an Amtrak train that collided with a pickup truck that stopped in the middle of a crossing. Holstine claims that the collision caused him to fall and sustain injuries. Having fulling considered the premises, and having discussed the motions with the parties during the pretrial conference ("PTC"), the Court finds as follows:

I. Standard

As summarized by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals:

A motion in limine is a motion made prior to trial for the purpose of prohibiting opposing counsel from mentioning the existence of, alluding to, or offering evidence on matters so highly prejudicial to the moving party that a timely motion to strike or an instruction by the court to the jury to disregard the offending matter cannot overcome its prejudicial influence on the jurors' minds.

O'Rear v. Fruehauf Corp., 554 F.2d 1304, 1306 n.1 (5th Cir. 1977) (internal quotation marks omitted).

II. Analysis

A. Defendant's Motion in Limine

1. Additional Crossing Warnings

The Court's June 16, 2015 Order [130] granting partial summary judgment ("MSJ Order") removed this issue from the case. The motion is therefore granted.

2. Excessive Train Speed

Amtrak moves to exclude any reference that the train was traveling at an excessive speed before the accident. Holstine agrees that the MSJ Order removes his excessive-speed claim. But he argues that the train's speed remains a relevant factor in determining whether the engineer applied the brakes fast enough. The Court agrees. While argument and evidence suggesting that the speed was excessive will be excluded, the speed of the train is relevant to other liability theories and will be permitted.

3. Manipulation, Defectiveness, and/or Alteration of Locomotive Event Recorder, Locomotive Video, and Signal Recorder

Amtrak seeks to exclude any argument or evidence suggesting that various recordings of the accident lack credibility due to manipulation, defectiveness, or alteration. The motion is too broad to be granted in limine. While Holstine agreed during the PTC that his counsel would not argue or suggest to the jury that an alteration occurred absent supporting proof, he is not precluded from ...


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